Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pittsburgh is the new hollywood?

Well, not quite...

Despite Pittsburgh magazine's article this month (which is where that fun pic comes from), the sad truth is that only Hollywood is Hollywood.  

Let's face it, you do have a much higher chance of working in the movie biz if you live in L.A., just as if you really wanted to work as a country singer-songwriter, you go to Nashville.  

Or as I like to think of it, its hard to be an Alaskan crab fisherman in Utah. 


It doesn't mean there aren't any opportunities outside of L.A.  In fact, there are many.  

I do believe that talent is rare and if they want you, really want you, it won't matter what zip code you call home.  Everyone in Hollywood is clamoring for a great script, so write a great script (assuming you can do that, which is probably one of the hardest things you really can do).

But speaking of opportunities...I was happy to discover that Pittsburgh has a growing film industry, due in no small part to the incentives instated a few years ago.  Last year, 2010, I think six major movies were shot in the area and in 2009, there were at least three shot here.  

There are also organizations that help promote Pittsburgh as a place to live and work in film and TV. Steeltown Entertainment Project exists to promote the film and media industry in Western PA, and there is also Pittsburgh Filmmakers.
(FYI, one really cool thing at the Steeltown site is their "list" which shows all the entertainment folks who came out of da burgh, including the well known Jeff Goldblum and Michael Keaton but also others ranging from Gene Kelly to Christina Aguilera.  I didn't know theatre performer Sutton Foster, or composer Stephen Flaherty were from here...take a look and be surprised.)

Last year, Steeltown started its Film Factory competition, where they offered $25,000 for a short screenplay that could be shot in Western PA. The deadline for the 2011 Film Factory Competition is tomorrow.  This time they're offering $30,000 to the winning 12 minute script.  There are a bunch of other events happening, as well, including workshops and panels with professionals in the industry.

For more info, check out this video:

Win Up To $30,000 To Make Your Short Film from Film Factory on Vimeo.

In December, I finished up my short screenplay and sent it off right before the end of the year.  I hadn't written anything for film in over a year, so I felt a little rusty, but after a few rewrites, the story and script seemed to come together.

What's really great is you can watch the short movies that were made last year.  They split the award between two films, one a comedy named Roll the Dice by Hustlebot and the other a dramatic piece called Anywhere but Here by Ross Thomas.  

The movies are definitely showing the city and people of the region in two totally different types of stories, which I'll write more about next time.

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